{ thinking out loud about the things i care about }

Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

Journalist “Moderates” Comments, Teacher Loses Job

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Privacy on the internet, folks. Being anonymous online is harder than you think.

To sum up: Kurt Greenbaum, a journalist/editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (and — laughingly — is also the Director of Social Media there, which I’m betting the higher-ups at the St. Louis Post are regretting right about now) posted an article to the Post-Dispach’s blog entitled “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten? And did you like it?“. Unsurprisingly to anyone who’s read comments on the internet before, one reader responded with the obvious: “pussy”. Mr. Greenbaum checked out the IP address, saw it was from a local school, and decided to call the school rather than delete the comment or block users from that IP from commenting. The school worked their IT magic, discovered the comment had come from one of the teachers, and the teacher resigned upon being confronted with the information. The following Monday, Greenbaum posted a boasting warning: post a vulgar comment while you’re at work, lose your job. The internet gets a hold of this and, predictably, responds with WHUT HELL NO (well, I guess predictably if you’re anyone but the Director of Social Media at the Post-Dispatch anyway).

Check out the comments on the Monday post and his follow-up post including several conversation about whether or not Greenbaum violated his own privacy policy. Some clever cogs snatch up kurtgreenbaum.com, and use it to redirect to kurtgreenbaumisapussy.com in order to hit Greenbaum in the SEO gut and provide a full summary of the events so far. Mainstream media has picked it up and things for Mr. Greenbaum are probably about to go down to tubes quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another job loss come out of this, depending on how bad and broad the publicity gets. The general consensus of pretty much everyone seems to be he went way too far (for the record, I completely agree).

This is a pretty good illustration of why my rule of thumb is to only post online things I’m comfortable with the entire world knowing. Anonymity on the internet is not quite a myth, but it is a more complicated thing than a lot of people realize, and that’s not yet something that’s been honestly and openly addressed by society at large or — probably more importantly — the legal systems. This is also a pretty good example of how important it is to have actual social media savvy people on the payroll. Several massive mistakes were made along the way here, from the phone call to the gloating after-post to the overly defensive and self-important tone Greenbaum takes with commenters who take issue with his actions. There is indeed a teachable moment at the core of all this, but it’s definitely not the one Kurt Greenbaum thought it would be.

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Caster Semanya & Information That Should Have Been Kept Private

Friday, September 11th, 2009

I just wanted to say how sad and disappointed I am that Semanya’s deeply personal medical information has become public news, quite possibly without her consent. WTF, news media? Is it really so important that the world know these personal details? Couldn’t it have been enough to report that Semanya will be keeping her medal? Some of the offensive and derogatory comments and assumptions that have be made by both reporters and people commenting on articles because of all this crosses all sorts of lines. This is private, personal medical information that should NOT have been released to the public at large by anyone except Semanya if she was comfortable and chose to release it. She identifies as female, and the investigation results show there was no conscious or drug-induced effort to hide knowledge or anything physical to the contrary. Can’t that be enough? Why should the public be entitled to know anything more than that? (And I’m not entirely sure even that much is our business, honestly.)

Also, from rm‘s post (scroll to the last bullet point):

I don’t know how Semenya self-identifies, and I’ve not got a vested interest in it. But until she tells us otherwise, she’s a she, and she’s fucking fast on the track and I fucking wish the media and everyone else would stop telling us what she thinks, what she feels, and who she is. Only Semenya can do that. But then again, we’ve never been very good at letting women speak for themselves, have we?

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Facebook Bows to Canadian Privacy Commissioner

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Facebook agress to follow all the demands of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. And Facebook’s blog post.


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Anonymous Blogging & The Internet

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Originally posted by rm and I’m spreading it around some more because I think the conversation is a good one to have: is it okay to blog about this woman anonymously?

I’m not sure which side I stand in the latest battle between unmasked anonymouse Rosemary Port and her target Liskula Cohen. On the one hand, I think probably Cohen had a fairly good idea who was behind the blog before she started going through the motions of forcing Google to reveal her identity, and it seems fairly clear this particular issue is more about the bad blood between these two people than either anonymity or privacy. (And can I just sidenote for a minute to say how much it saddens and frustrates me that women are taught to treat each other this way in our culture, and that it’s being pumped up by the news media largely because it is two women dueling in that way women have been conditioned to, which just reinforces it. End sidenote.) At the same time I detest and bemoan the way the anonymice have made the culture of the internet such a brutal, unforgiving, unreasonable one in many ways, I’m also not certain being rude should mean forfeiting your privacy and entitles the world to know your identity.

Thinky thoughts indeed.

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